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7 ways to get your CEO fired

Rob Enderle | April 15, 2013
It's hard to train good CEOs. It's much easier to set them up for failure. Follow these seven steps and your chief executive officer is bound to be out of a job sooner or later.

1: Allowing, Promoting Micromanagement

Micromanagers should never be CEOs of large companies. This is because they are simply too complex to micromanage. Steve Jobs is the perfect example of what can happen when a micromanager stays too long. Yes, he executed masterfully but the level of stress and commitment he put upon himself for an extended period of time clearly shortened his life; even when he found he had cancer, he couldn't extract himself from the job to focus on his health.

If you want to destroy a CEO, then engage him at all levels of the company, make him worry about the little things and defer all decisions to him. The resulting stress should burn him out and force him to leave for health reasons.

2. Making CEOs Executive Chairman

You'd think CEOs would know better by now that this can lead to a lot of bad things. Take a job that has few controls and little day-to-day oversight and add to it the authority of that job's one boss and you have a recipe for career suicide.

It's bad enough when a CEO battles his chairman. Remove the chairman, though, and the risk of a CEO acting badly goes up exponentially because he, in effect, becomes his own boss. Often an experienced chairman can mentor a CEO and keep him from making avoidable mistakes.

CEOs love to take over the chairman job because they feel it gives them power, but instead it generally gives them the rope they appear to gleefully want to use to hang themselves. Of HP's four dismissed CEOs, two made themselves executive chairman first. Mark Hurd was likely poster child for this, choosing an unfortunate hire as his "hostess"-a woman he'd seen in adult-themed movies. Executive oversight from someone who wasn't thinking with his hormones might have prevented this.

3. Letting CEOs Run Wild

Even if a CEO isn't chairman, the job can still lead CEOs to believe that rules simply don't apply. Even Jobs was guilty of this; early in his career, and without proper authorization, had his stock options backdated; this nearly cost him his job. Meanwhile, HP's Carly Fiorina and Mark Hurd both lost their jobs largely because they felt they were different, a belief fostered through the use of company jet, exclusive perks and a lack of board oversight.

Speaking of hormones, affairs are all too common among CEOs who think they're invincible. I've seen CEOs get fired for having sex with employees on fire escapes or hiring a perspective mistress.

Generally a CEO who feels that rules don't apply to him will learn this the hard way, with devastating results. CEOs rarely come back from such a catastrophic end.


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